Foreign service students have the wonderful opportunity to gain new perspectives and insights—specifically in regards to history, civics, and government—while living abroad. They’re gifted a chance to experience and explore different countries and cultures all over the world.
However, it’s important to give them context for where they came from—and studying U.S. history can help them in so many ways. While international schools can provide excellent education options for children, they typically do not cover U.S. history in a way that will leave them with a sufficient understanding of how our nation was formed and everything that has happened in the nearly 250 years since.
Learning U.S. history is so much more than just memorizing dates, facts, and characters. Here are 10 ways studying U.S. history actually helps your student in the long run.
1. Shows them what sets America apart from other countries
U.S. history provides a solid foundation for understanding what indeed makes the United States so special. America was founded by rebels, and has developed into an economic and military powerhouse. More than that, it’s become a beacon of freedom for so many people all over the world. Learning about how the nation got its start and how it came to be what it is today can only be discovered through the lens of a U.S. history class.
2. Gives your child a sense of where they came from
Some kids have only known life abroad and they have little knowledge or connection to life in the U.S. Learning American history can help kids understand where they come from and provide them with a sense of identity. It’ll help them appreciate the sacrifices and struggles of their ancestors and even help them develop a sense of patriotism and pride in their country. An international or local education may give them a greater sense of the history of the world—which is important as well—but U.S. history shows your student where they fit into it all.
3. Helps them appreciate their surroundings while abroad
The United States is a melting pot of cultures. As children learn more about how the nation came to be—and the diverse cultures and people who made it so—they’ll cultivate an appreciation for whatever country they currently call home. Living abroad while studying U.S. history is a unique opportunity for children to connect to the subject on a completely different level.
4. Strengthens qualities like compassion and empathy
Chances are, living in a foreign country has already opened your child’s eyes to different cultures. They see how different the world is and how unique each person they meet can be—history classes just broaden that awareness. Discovering the hardships and sacrifices other people endured—even just within the context of U.S. history—can help children develop compassion, tolerance, and empathy in new ways.
5. Helps them learn from past mistakes
There’s a well-known quote by author and philosopher George Santayana that reads, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is important for students to know how our country got to the point it’s at today. When they learn about the some of the atrocities committed throughout history, they can use the empathy they’re developing to look for ways to avoid situations like that from occurring again. U.S. history teaches them that the American government is nimble and malleable enough so that as they continue to learn from the mistakes of the past, they have the power to shape the future and make it better.
6. Helps them understand how cultures evolve
The U.S., although still a relatively young nation, has seen many eras and ages. History classes show students how society and culture change and evolve over time and how much one generation can affect the next.
7. Keeps them up-to-date on school standards back home
Enrolling your child in U.S. history classes while they’re abroad means they won’t miss a beat when it comes to keeping up with their classmates back home. Typically, the education systems abroad focus on world history, and while this is a solid foundation, American schools still concentrate on U.S.-centric history. A supplemental course that covers U.S. history, keeps students up-to-date with the history standards back in the U.S., so when it comes time to move back, they’ll be caught up and on track without any issues.
8. Sets them up for college
While it may seem a little early to be thinking about sending your first grader (or even your eighth grader) off to college, it’s something that will likely happen before you know it. With a U.S. history course, especially one taught in an online format, your student is learning skills that they’ll be able to take with them once they enroll in a university. Colleges are offering more and more online courses, so when it comes time for your student to begin taking classes in this format, it won’t feel foreign to them and they’ll already be ahead of their peers. Taking additional, supplemental classes, like those we offer at U.S. History Abroad, also prepares them for a more strenuous workload and gives them the time management and independent learning skills needed to succeed in higher education.
9. Helps them develop critical thinking skills
Reading and analyzing historical documents teaches children to become careful readers. What rights do the First Amendment really give U.S. citizens? How important is propaganda when it comes to war? Learning U.S. history gives students a chance to become skeptical of biases and independent thinkers.
10. Put things into perspective
History is still happening. Studying history shows students that society is not dormant; it’s constantly changing and can be influenced by so many factors. It helps them to question and understand why things change, who propels those changes, and what comes from those changes. Learning about U.S. history, while keeping up with current events, can put today’s world and happenings into perspective.
Ultimately, the value of learning U.S. history—no matter where you are in the world—is immeasurable. Start perusing the many different courses we offer and sign up for our newsletter to be alerted when registration for the new school year opens!
Many people have heard of the Wright brothers and know they are credited with inventing and successfully flying the world’s first airplane! It’s an incredible piece of American history that has shaped the way the entire world travels.
On Dec. 17 we recognize their achievements and celebrate the anniversary of Orville and Wilbur’s first flight in 1903. Their story is often a quick blip in history classes and textbooks, we want to take a little bit of time and share how that first powered flight came to be.
The History of the Wright Brothers
Wilbur and Orville Wright were American inventors and are known to be the leading pioneers of aviation as we know it today. On Dec. 17, 1903, they achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight. While this was unbelievable on its own, they outdid their own accomplishment by building and flying the first fully practical airplane just two years later.
Wilber and Orville both showed an interest in mechanics and engineering from an early age. Part of a family of five children, the two grew up as playmates and best friends. Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867, near Millville, Indiana; Orville Wright, was born in 1871.
Their father, Milton Wright was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and his preaching frequently took him on the road. On his returns, he’d often bring the boys small toys. One of these toys—a small model helicopter made of cork, bamboo and paper, and powered by a rubber band—is considered to be the spark that ignited their lifelong love of aeronautics and flying.
Life before flight
When they were younger, the Wright brothers helped their father edit a journal called the Religious Telescope. After a few years, they left the journal to start their own weekly newspaper, the West Side News.
Always inclined towards mechanics, Wilbur and Orville opened their own bike shop in 1892, at the height of the bicycles craze that was sweeping the country. It’s here—fixing bicycles and selling their own designs—where they gained the skills needed to later invent a working airplane.
Working with these different mechanical projects, like bicycles and printing presses, and following the scientific research of German aviator Otto Lilienthal, inspired the brothers to start their own experiments in flight. When Lilienthal died in a glider plane accident in 1896, the made the decision that it was time to develop their own successful design and moved to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which is known for its strong winds.
Wilbur and Orville began by observing how birds angled their wings for balance and control. Armed with this information, they set out to develop a concept they called “wing warping,” which led to their design for airplane wings. After adding a moveable rudder, which gave them better control, the brothers found the magic formula that gave them flight.
On Dec. 17, 1903 the Wright brothers made the first free flight of a power-driven, heavier-than-air airplane. Wilbur piloted the craft for 59 seconds, at an elevation of 852 feet.
Though they were not the first to build an aircraft, the Wright brothers did invent the three-axis control, which made a fixed-wing powered flight possible. In fact, their first patent—821,393—was not for a “flying machine,” but rather, the aerodynamic controls that manipulated the machine’s surfaces. With this breakthrough, a pilot could steer the plane effectively and maintain equilibrium throughout its flight.
Despite the fact that the Wright brothers found success in the air, there were people throughout the country that preferred to see them grounded. The media and other aviation experts were hesitant to believe the Wilbur and Orville’s claims of flight, and as a result, Wilbur took off to Europe, where he hoped to (and did) find a more receptive audience.
The move proved successful; Wilbur began giving many public flights to journalists, government officials, and society’s elite. In 1909, Orville joined his brother in Europe and the two began selling their airplanes. Shortly after, they returned to the U.S. where they finally found fame and wealth due to their incredible invention.
Make Your Own Airplane at Home
Your child might not have access to all the tools and heavy machinery needed to build their own airplane, but they can still celebrate this monumental anniversary by creating their own paper airplanes! Here’s how to do it.
As you’re making these paper airplanes with your child, share the history of flight with them—you never know, you might just inspire a lifelong love of aeronautics or engineering as well! Don’t forget to share your photos of their creations with us on Facebook!
This is our family's seventh year homeschooling and to be honest, it might be our last... I'll save my thoughts on that for another time, because today I want to share what I LOVE about homeschooling this time of year-- story time by the fireplace, complete with big mugs filled with hot chocolate and WAAAAAAAAY too much whipped cream!!
We've discovered a fun podcast that I think your kids will quickly become obsessed with too!
In The Radio Adventure of Dr. Floyd, we laugh as we listen (in the style of old-time radio) to how Dr. Floyd plans to fend off his nemesis Dr. Steve while learning about history in the process.
Try these EPISODES: "Bulls & Bears!" where Dr. Grant gets a little nervous about news of animals on Wall Street.
Or, "Voice of the Revolution!" where Dr. Steve tries to swipe Patrick Henry's 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death' speech.
Looking for Christmas-themed episodes? Listen to: "Twas the Night Before Floyd!" or "How Dr. Steve Stole Christmas!"
You can listen on iTunes or Stitcher.
I'd love to hear how your family connects during the busy holiday season. Board games? Dance parties in the kitchen? Christmas karaoke?
Are you in the holiday spirit yet? Some places are more festive than others-- for example, when we lived in Russia, I was feelin' it by mid-October, but to be honest, it never felt like Christmas during our time in Morocco...
So, if YOUR FAMILY needs a boost, I've made a list of my very favorite things-- books!
Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders will enjoy:
The Jolly Postman
A Christmas Carol
The Night Before Christmas
3rd, 4th, and 5th graders should take a look at:
The Family Under the Bridge
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Last Holiday Concert
Jake & The Gingerbread Wars
6th, 7th, and 8th graders can immerse themselves in
these American Christmas classics:
Gift of the Magi
A Christmas Story
I wouldn't want to leave out High school/Adult readers:
Mr. Dickens and His Carol
Christmas in America
Christmas 1945: The Greatest Celebration in American History
AND if you're looking for a new Christmas movie to add to your family's must-watch list, check out The Man Who Invented Christmas. You're welcome!
If you or your kiddos are bookworms like we are and have already read through this list, shoot me an email and I'll send you more suggestions directly to your inbox!
We are only a week away from opening up registration for the school year. Remember, I’ve been saying that we’re mixing things up for our 5th year in business and here is one of the big changes. As a result from your survey input, we have eliminated the standard box of books the we sent each child for their course and instead have replaced it with a age appropriate suggestions for books, games, and activities and a $150 Amazon gift card.
I love this new model because it eliminates your household from receiving duplicate materials! Or, you can purchase only the digital versions of the books if you like to really save space! You get to pick which items you want or you can even choose something that’s not even on the list. And trust me, $150 will buy a lot of books!
So, seriously, mark your calendar, put a reminder in your phone, sign up to get notified, or whatever you have to do to remember to register on August 29th.
I’m going to give you a sneak peak of the suggested purchases for each course. The lists are too fun not to share! So, click download to view this this gift guide pdf.
We have touched on a lot of topics over the summer. Educational apps, American idioms, U.S. Presidents, All-American movies and audiobooks, Colonial and American Revolutionary history, and U.S. Civics. Do you know what we haven’t looked at? U.S. geography and famous attractions!
I’ve put together a fun game that you can play with your kids. It works like this.
* Use the button below to print out the question and answer cards.
* Each card has ten clues on it listed from hardest to easiest.
* One person will read the card and the others will try to guess the answer before anyone else. BUT, if you guess incorrectly, you are out for that round.
* If you are the first to guess correctly then you get to hold onto that card.
* The person with the most cards at the end, wins!
I am a tourist attraction...
I am on an island...
In the American Civil War, I was a military barracks...
My name means “pelican” in Spanish...
In 1933, I became a federal penitentiary....
I have been the setting for many movies...
My nickname is “The Rock.”...
Al Capone and the Birdman spent some time here...
I was “liberated” twice by a group of Native Americans...
Where am I?
If you guessed Alcatraz before anyone else, then you would win the card!
Simple and fun, right? So go ahead and download your free printable and you can start playing right away!
I can honestly say that I have the BEST job. I get to interact with kids and parents who value the importance of keeping up with American history studies while living overseas.
If you haven’t already, read the blog post where I point to an article about a former Ambassador who talks about how he spent his childhood overseas, but was turned down form the Foreign Service twice because they felt he didn’t know enough about the U.S.
However, we live in age where our kids can keep up with their U.S. History studies with online lessons! I created these courses specifically for Foreign Service kids and have included all of the components required by the Fairfax County Schools standards of learning.
The lessons were designed for students to spend about 30-45 minutes one time a week to complete over the course of a school year. Check out the testimonials page to see what students have to say about the lessons. The say the funniest things and give rave reviews!
Well, I have rave reviews for the amount of effort and enthusiasm that my students put into each lesson. As I’ve said before, these kids are already so busy and involved with their school, community, and extra-curricular programs, but they are still willing to take on the extra responsibility of keeping up with American history! Good job to the all of my students and I also want to give a shout out to the PARENTS who are ensuring that our Foreign Service kids are excelling in this lifestyle.
As you know, I offer a lot of freebies and bonuses to my students, but here’s something for all of you supportive parents-- I want to treat you to a Starbucks coffee today! We, as parents of Third Culture Kids are all in this together. We're all working hard to make sure that our kids turn out “normal” at the end of this adventure. So, to honor you and show my gratitude for your service and commitment to our children, please, if you are in the U.S. (and I’m hoping that the timing of this will mean that many of you are either on R&R or Home Leave in the U.S…) but if you are in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, or Mexico today, then go get a #CoffeonUSHistoryAbroad!
You’ll find the barcode over in the FS Bidding Tools Facebook Group which is a place for all members of the Foreign Service Community to discuss overseas schools, post morale, EFM employment, and much more. If you haven’t joined, request to do so NOW because this gift expires Thursday night.
Citizens of the United States of America enjoy rights that many people in the world don't share. Of course, Americans also share great responsibilities too. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are built on and support these American values.
Students in Course E learn about what citizenship means, why we have government, what values the citizens of the United States hold, and the duties and responsibilities of United States citizens.
Even though kids of American parents are automatically U.S. citizens, sometimes Foreign Service kids grow up outside of the United States and fail to learn the basics about U.S. government and history. I hope you are helping your child get the resources and instruction in place so they won't feel embarrassed down the road.
Here's a sampling of some typical questions that could be asked on the naturalization test. Can your child pass?
I’m not trying to rush the end of summer, but the reality is that for Foreign Service families, we have to start thinking about "back to school" right now. Either you have to pick up school supplies to take back to post with you, or you need to get them ordered from Amazon or Walmart asap so they get delivered to you in time.
I know that you would rather be enjoying time with your family at the pool, visiting with grandparents, or squeezing in a few more family vacations so I’ve made it easy for you and have created all of your checklists and put them into ONE download.
This freebie gives you a list of your child’s school supplies, breakfast ideas for each day of the week, after-school snack ideas, and a clothes shopping checklist.
PLUS I’ve also included a 2018-2019 academic calendar that you can print out and add all of the school projects, parents-teacher conferences, and other school-related appointments to it. If you are able to, you should print it out on 11x17 paper, it’s totally worth it!
P.S. Don’t forget to get your props ready for those 1st day of school pictures.
"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..." Obviously, it makes the most sense to learn history in chronological order. This can be difficult for Foreign Service kids because when you move around a lot, you might enter a grade at a school that is working through the American Civil War, but you haven't learned about the 13 Colonies or the Revolutionary War yet. Also, it's very possible that your International school does not teach the subject of American history at all, so there's that.
There's the simple solution to this problem though: U.S. History Abroad's online American history courses are designed for kids constantly on the move, who would otherwise miss out on learning about the people, places, and events that make up our Nation's history. You know what they say, "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots."
Today's freebie is a fun 20-question Quizlet for you and your kids to test your knowledge on the history of early America. In our online courses, your child will listen to stories, watch videos, hear songs, and have other activities that teach the historical information that kids need to know, but this quiz is just a little something that I created for everyone to enjoy right now.
Step 1. Click the red button to work through the online flash cards.
Step 2. Once you've mastered the material, change the "Choose a Study Mode" to MATCH and race for the top score. (This is usually the kids' favorite part.)
I hope you enjoyed brushing up on some early American history topics. Keep your eye out for an American civics blog post coming SOON!
We’re only about half way through the summer and I’m already receiving Summer Reading Program forms back from kids that have finished reading 8 books and have chosen their free book from U.S. History Abroad. (It's not too late to join!)
Here’s the thing, and I should have said it from the beginning, but YES, audiobooks count too! In our family, we are rarely in the car without an audiobook playing so I want to share some of our favorites with you. Especially if you have young kids who may not be ready to tackle reading some of these titles on their own.
Do you prefer the downloadable pdf checklist?
To me, the 4th of July is the REAL kick-off to summer. I know, we’ve been having cook outs and late nights for a few weeks already, but for some reason, this week, the week that we celebrate the day when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the 13 colonies, it’s the main highlight of the summer.
Many of our students live outside of the United and may or may not get to celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July. Last month’s newsletter had some awesome ideas on how to celebrate the 4th of July while living abroad, but if you’re just now hearing about it, it’s probably too late to get all of the supplies, decorations, and stuff prepped for the activities. :( BUT, why not pop some popcorn and put on an all-American movie for the kids?
Use the link below to download your list of classic American movie titles that are available to rent on iTunes or Amazon Prime. Some are even available to stream on Netflix if you have a subscription. This movie list will give you so many ideas, you’ll be set for your movie nights for the rest of the summer!
In Course D for 3rd-5th grade students, I have an entire section on U.S. Presidents. By the end of the lessons, students will be able to name all of the presidents in order and provide a brief description of their accomplishments.
However, today’s blog post is for everyone! I'm going to give a little refresher on what the qualifications are to become president. These are all questions that elementary kids will know the answers to so I'm sure you won't have any trouble either. :)
What age must you be to in order to serve as the president? (At least 35 years old.).
Do you know who the youngest elected president was? (John F. Kennedy) and how old was he when he took office? (43).
There are also some pretty great benefits that presidents receive:
For example, the president travels for free, whether it’s in a limo, a Marine One helicopter, or flying on Air Force One. That is just “plain” awesome!
The president also gets secret service protection while they are in office and for 14 years after they leave.
Obviously they are living for free in the White House, but did you know that at the end of each month, the president gets a bill for his and his family’s personal meals and toiletries? It gets deducted from his annual salary.
What is the current annual salary for a U.S. president? ($400,000 a year while they are the president and then afterwards, they receive a pension of just over $200,000 a year, plus free postage for life.)
Which presidents were also Founding Fathers?
Who are our wartime presidents?
George Washington (Revolutionary War)
James Madison (War of 1812)
James K. Polk (Mexican-American War)
Abraham Lincoln (Civil War)
William McKinley (Spanish-American War)
Woodrow Wilson (World War I)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (World War II)
Harry S. Truman (World War II, Korean War)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (Korean War, Vietnam War)
John F. Kennedy (Vietnam War)
Lyndon B. Johnson (Vietnam War)
Richard Nixon (Vietnam War)
George H.W. Bush (Persian Gulf War)
George W. Bush (Second Persian Gulf War)
Barack Obama (Second Persian Gulf War)
Which presidents were former Secretaries of State?
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
Which presidents were born in log cabins?
Ulysses S. Grant
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
P.S. Were you looking for the answers to the email trivia questions?
- The only president who never married was James Buchanan.
- Whose grandfather had also been president? Benjamin Harrison.
- Who was the heaviest of all our presidents, at over 300 pounds? William Howard Taft
- Who was the shortest and lightest president at 5'4", 100 pounds? James Madison
- Who is the only president to have been divorced? Ronald Reagan
Have you ever considered that two very similar phrases: "Sweating like a horse." versus "Sweating bullets." mean completely different things? Idioms like these are pervasive throughout the English language and play an important role in living in the United States.
To ignore them means missing out on cultural nuances. Many idioms use metaphors or comparisons to make simple ideas more vivid. For instance, to say "You're making a mountain out of a molehill" is a more interesting say of saying, "You're exaggerating."
It's especially important for Third Culture Kids to be able to understand and use idiomatic expressions so that they can communicate with their peers and co-workers as adults. This is why our online courses introduce kids to common idioms used by U.S. based teachers, coaches, and other prominent role models in children's lives.
Take the quiz below and see how well you score. How did your children do?
Last week I shared U.S. History Abroad’s Summer Reading Program with you. If you didn’t sign up and get your printable reading chart, it’s not too late, but seriously, don’t wait any longer because the deadline to read 8 books is August 31st!
Today, I’m going to do a 180 and touch on summer screen time. This is another topic in which I feel like I’m all over the board. On the one hand I’m told, “Let your kids learn to be responsible with screen time. Be generous so that when they are older they don’t feel deprived and gorge themselves or become addicted to their phones…”
On the other hand I hear, “Screens are so bad for kids. Kids belong outside and it’s good for them to be bored all summer long.”
I’m a black and white kinda girl so it can be hard for me to find balance on the issue of screens, but it’s something that I’m working on.
And maybe I’m kidding myself, but I feel like as long as the kids are incorporating educational apps into their foray, then it’s not a total waste of time.
If you’re interested in my 12 educational app picks that range from learning a foreign language to spelling to math & logic games, and of course learning about U.S. History then be sure to download this gem of a freebie.
As a parent to three Foreign Service Kids, I feel like I constantly have an on-going debate in my head and I wonder... Are my kids missing out by living abroad? Now, logically I know all of the advantages this lifestyle affords our kids, but emotionally—I’m always torn.
Did I ever tell you about the time my dad visited just before we departed for Moscow? Long story short, he was worried that our kids would be deprived of consuming Happy Meals like normal American kids so he left us with $300 and instructions to take the kids to a fast food restaurant every week and to make sure they ate a Happy-Meal-equivalent at each place. So, to Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, and Chick-Fil-A we went!
That was just one of the times where it sorta hit me that the kids might grow up a bit out of touch with American culture.
Another time was when we returned to the States for the first time in two years. The kids were 6, 5, and 3 and I was looking at the menu at the McDonald’s drive through. I said to myself, but out loud, “Oh, they have Smurfs here!” That’s when our three littles started yelling excitedly “I want to eat a Smurf! Me too! Can I please order a Smurf? I’ve never had one.” I was like, “What are you Gargamel? Smurfs are not to eat!” And then when I showed them the little blue figurines, they were perplexed on why anyone would ever want one. Oh well.
Anyway, these are just some silly examples of why I sometimes question if we are ruining the kids with our choice of a Foreign Service lifestyle.
And, it got me thinking. What do our kids miss out on? Foreign Service kids don’t have a local library or Barnes & Noble that they can walk into and sign up for a Summer Reading Program! When I realized this, I was mildly horrified. A bit dramatic, I know, but am I the only one who LOVED turning in my summer reading slip and choosing a toy from the toy-chest?
The good news is, I realized that this is a problem that I can solve!
So, I present to you the Foreign Service Kids Summer Reading Program! It’s very easy. Read 8 books between now and August 31st and I’ll pop a free book in the mail for you! Your kids can choose from an assortment of fun and engaging U.S. History themed books. How simple is that? It’s so simple that I actually can’t believe no one has thought of it yet!
So use the red button below to help your kids sign up. There, you’ll also find a printable to help your kids keep track of the books they’ve read! I suggest you go RIGHT NOW so that you don’t get sidetracked and put it off until mid-July!!
There are many famous pictures and songs that children should be able to recognize. Students at U.S. History Abroad learn about these events and more through online American history courses.
Here are some more fun places to see and find adventure in the United States. How many have you already been able to check off your list?
If you are headed Stateside this summer, either for R&R or for Home Leave, you'll want to scan this list of historical places to visit!
Every child learns differently and it can be easier to teach any subject when you provide your children with different ways to learn about the subject. How would you teach your child about the Salem Witch Trials? Or the First Thanksgiving? One of the perks of the US History Abroad courses has been the care packages that have been sent out with additional learning opportunities for your child.
Filled with information, treats, and additional learning opportunities above and beyond what the course offers, the care packages are a treat for any child who receives them.
And care packages don’t have to be centered around an event. December’s care package focused on log cabins and the children shared their gingerbread log cabin creations for a chance to win a prize.
January’s care package gave the children the opportunity to learn about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. Alongside an informative newsletter that comes with the care package, students received games, a calendar, and a mixtape. Children and adults alike retain more information when they are presented with several different ways to learn about a subject, so the care packages strive to hit all the major learning opportunities.
Parents and children alike enjoy the care packages. One mother said of her seven year old son:
Give your children the opportunity to learn AMERICAN HISTORY in fun and engaging online courses. Developing their love of learning will serve them throughout their life.
Motivating your children to learn can be a challenge sometimes. When children are required to study topics that they aren’t interested in, parents may be the ones responsible for making sure their children complete homework or retain the information the children need to pass tests or quizzes. But when learning is fun, education becomes easier. So how can you make learning history more fun?
Determine how your child learns best
Is your child an auditory learner or a visual one? Does your child learn by reading and writing or do they learn better with physical activities? Figuring out how your child learns best will save you time and heartache. Trying to force a child to learn a subject by reading and writing when the child is a visual learner will make the whole learning process more difficult and unpleasant for both you and your child. Use what you know about your child’s learning preference to make learning easy and fun for him or her.
There are so many different options available for teaching your child history so make sure to add variety to your child’s lessons. Include songs or books about history. Use maps, write stories, and give your child worksheets to fill out. Work with your child to memorize facts and use those facts to play history games. Let your children listen to podcasts or watch educational videos. There is no one right way to learn and adding different ways to learn keeps your child engaged and makes learning history more fun.
Have your children teach you
One way to make sure your child has enough of an understanding of the subject matter he has been studying is to have your child teach you. Have your child explain the topic he or she just learned about. Take the quizzes or tests your child has taken alongside of them (not for them, of course, but let your child administer quizzes and correct you if you make a mistake).
US History Abroad offers courses for grades from Kindergarten up through eighth Grade and beyond. Designed to be a highly interactive multimedia learning experience, US History Abroad offers students the chance to learn by watching short video clips, listening to songs, playing relevant games, completing worksheets, taking quizzes, memorization, map work, writing short narratives, and reading books.
US History Abroad is broken down into courses covering different spans of American history, as well as courses on politics, US presidents, and the judicial system.
Don’t forget that the State Department offers up-to-100% reimbursement for your purchase of US History Abroad. Once you complete your child’s registration, you will receive confirmation and a receipt. All you’ll need to do is submit that receipt to your post’s Financial Management Office and you will receive reimbursement in two-to-three weeks’ time.
“Fourscore and seven years ago” is the beginning of an iconic, albeit short, speech made by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Do you know the name of that speech? Does your child?
Living outside the United States offers a child a myriad of cultural and learning benefits, but one thing they may miss out on is learning about the history of the United States.
“But why does my child need to learn about US History?” you may ask. “We are on assignment for the next two-to-three years.” Consider the future benefits your child will receive by having a strong foundation in US History studies.
Your child will not likely be living overseas for the rest of his or her life. Don’t you want him or her to be as prepared as possible to join his or her age-mates in school? While your teaching overseas includes basics like math and science, foregoing your child’s education in US History could lead them to feeling behind when they return to the States. You can sign up for a free grade-by-grade checklist on our website to see if there are any gaps in your child’s education that need to be filled.
Future Career Options
Assume, for a moment, that your child wants to follow in your footsteps and have a career in the government or foreign service. Many higher-level government jobs, including ambassadorships, require a good knowledge of US History. According to an article written by Jean Stratton for Princeton's weekly community newsletter, Former Ambassador William Stoltzfus Jr. didn’t pass his Foreign Service test until his second attempt (source). Ambassador Stolzfus reported that, "I was turned down because they felt I didn't know enough about the U.S.!" He recounted "So I studied some American history, and the second time around, I was accepted."
Not all children learn the same way. Some children might be auditory learners, some may be tactile learners, and some may be visual learners. Giving your child the opportunity to learn the best way for them gives them confidence and encourages a deep love of learning. The courses offered by US History Abroad come not only with lectures that will speak to auditory learners, but also with videos, songs, and interactive games. Allowing children the opportunity to learn on their own terms will set them up for success in their lives.
Added bonus: course reimbursement
Did you know that State Department families can be eligible for an up-to-100% reimbursement for any US History Abroad course? Once you complete your child’s registration, you will receive confirmation and a receipt. Submit that receipt to your post’s Financial Management Office and you will receive reimbursement in two-to-three weeks’ time. (You can learn more about education allowances here.)
Don’t let a concern about cost hold you back from giving your child the tools he or she needs to succeed in the future.
The courses offered by US History Abroad will not only teach your children the US History they need to know based on the Standards of Learning given by the United States, but will give your children tools that they need for a brighter future.
Recommendations for making learning more fun for Foreign Service Youth, while helping them remain academically competitive in the future.
By Alix Bryant and Ed Richards
Washington, D.C. – The experience of living abroad in a different country can often provide Foreign Service youth with a greater level of cultural enrichment and personal development. Having the unique opportunity to complete their K-8 education outside of the U.S. school system can also make those same students stand out from their peers back home.
However, there is one potential downside for those who study abroad.
The fact is this: U.S. history isn’t part of the K-8 curriculum at international schools. This means that today’s Foreign Service youth population will need to be brought up to speed before they continue their studies in the States. Educators say history is unique in how it teaches students to research and make better, well-informed decisions. Despite its importance, history isn’t known for being the easiest or most enjoyable subject among school children, even within the U.S. school system.
According to the latest tests compiled for the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics—a study designed to measure their knowledge of American history in the contexts of democracy, culture, technological and economic changes, and America's changing world role—only twenty percent of fourth-graders and just seventeen percent of eighth-graders perform at or above the proficient level in U.S. History.* This trend of low history scores trouble experts like Will Fitzhugh, publisher of The Concord Review, a journal which features the work of the young and gifted history scholars who represent less than one-quarter of the student population at large.
“Nobody is doing anything to fix it,” according to Fitzhugh. “History informs the present with lessons from the past and if you don't do any history than you are exploring without any background.”
There are several resources available to Foreign Service youth who are interested in reversing the trend of low history scores.
· Sonlight is a literature-based homeschool curriculum company that offers an American history instructor’s guide with lesson plans and fifty books. $479
· All American History Volumes I & II are student readers that are designed to be engaging stories contained in thirty-two lessons with hundreds of images and dozen of maps.
· International Connections Academy is an online private school where students can enroll part-time and complete grade appropriate history courses.
· Teachers.net allows parents to search for American history lesson plans and to teach their children on their own.
· U.S. History Abroad delivers a series of self-paced, online classes developed with Foreign Service youth in mind. USHistoryAbroad.com provides a quality supplemental American history education with a ten-week curriculum that adheres to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) guidelines.
The SOL guidelines describe the expectations given by the United States for student learning and achievement in grades K-8 in American history. It also defines the framework that teachers are expected to teach as well as the specific knowledge and skills that their students are expected to learn. As a result, those who successfully complete their USHistoryAbroad.com course series (typically in as few as 10 weeks) are able to show proficiency in the subject matter that meets U.S. standards.
Though no official grade is given, participating students will be awarded a certificate upon completion. In most cases, tuition is 100% reimbursable. Visit www.ushistoryabroad.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details on enrollment.
*SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994, 2001, 2006, and 2010 U.S. History Assessments.
Former Ambassador William Stoltzfus Jr. served many years in the Middle East, but it took him two tries to pass the Foreign Service Officer test. This is according to an article written by Jean Stratton for Princeton's weekly community newsletter, Town Topics. Ambassador Stolzfus was quoted as saying, "I was turned down because they felt I didn't know enough about the U.S.!"
That statement makes sense when you consider that Ambassador Stolzfus, a child to Presbyterian missionaries, William and Ethel Stolfzfus, spent his childhood in Syria and Lebanon until he was 15 years old.
" I was turned down because they felt
Families within the Foreign Service are expected to work and live overseas. Their children get to experience some pretty amazing things throughout their overseas childhood, but it's a trade off. American history is often not a course that is available in the host country, but it's an important subject that needs to be taught to American kids.
Online supplemental American history courses, such as the ones offered at U.S. History Abroad, make it easy for parents to provide the American history education that kids are receiving in American schools.